The lawyers here at Cruise Law are traveling again to Jamaica. We will be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members (or their family members) who need to learn about the legal rights of cruise ship employees if they become ill or injured on cruise ships.
Our team will be traveling to Montego Bay on Tuesday December 11, 2012 and will be available from December 11th through December 13th for consultation.
On Wednesday December 12th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, we will be hosting a conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. If you live in Ocho Rios or the Montego Bay area you of course know where that is. But if you don't, the address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios.
My partner Lisa O'Neill and co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.
The photo above was from our last visit to the famous "No Problem Room." We met a number of cruise ship employees from Jamaica whose problems we helped solve this year.
In the last two years, we have obtained over $3,000,000 (US $) in compensation and medical benefits for injured and ill Jamaican crew members.
If the company has been unfair to you after you were injured on the cruise ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes. cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact us.
The flyer below has been posted on our facebook page. We hope to see you in the "No Problem Room" in two weeks.
Each year 14,000,000 people (yes 14 million) will go on a cruise. There are literally hundreds of passengers, as well as crewmembers, who will suffer a serious back injury or break their ankle, leg or hip after slipping and falling while cruising. Once back home after the cruise, they find it difficult to think of hiring a lawyer who they have never met in order to sue a large corporation in a far-off location like Miami.
But the process of hiring a Miami maritime lawyer to bring a claim against a cruise line like Carnival or Royal Caribbean is simple.
Over 95 percent of our firm's clients live out side of Florida. If you have a question about an accident on a cruise ship, send us an email. You can reach me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will receive an answer to your email right away. We will need answers to four issues:
When did the accident occur? Remember that you have only one year to file a lawsuit against a cruise line! This is a much shorter period of time than most land based injuries.
Which cruise line and which cruise ship were involved? The majority of the cases we handle are against Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines. These cases have to be filed here in Miami. Other cruise lines like Princess Cruises have to be filed in California. Holland America Line, for example, has to be sued in Seattle. If we can't help you, we will find someone who can.
What happened and why is the cruise line responsible? Be prepared to tell us not only how the accident occurred but why you think that the cruise line is liable.
What injuries did you sustain? The nature and extent of your injuries are important issues in your case. Have you undergone surgery? What type of medical treatment will you need in the future? Once you retain us, we will quickly obtain copies of all relevant medical records and reports.
If you prefer to call us, we look forward to speaking with you. We have a toll free number (800) 256-1518. You will probably initially speak with one of our assistants, like Jan or Betsy (photo right, with client), who will ask you a few questions about the basic information listed above. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
If you decide to hire us, we work on a contingency fee. This means that we do not bill you or ask for a retainer. We are paid only if we are successful and obtain a settlement or a verdict. You have nothing to lose.
We will send you four documents.
The first is the contingency fees agreement. All lawyers who handle these type of cases must have a written contract with the client where everything is spelled out. The second document is a statement of your rights as a client. We will also send you a short questionnaire about your cruise accident. The last document is a medical authorization so that we can obtain copies of your medical records.
We will email these items to you shortly after you email us or speak with us on the telephone. Just fill out the forms and return them to us. There is no need to travel to Miami to start your case.
One of the main reasons why cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean require that all claims be filed in Miami is that they know that it is inconvenient for injured passengers to do so. That's why we make it easy for our clients to retain us. Simply send us an email or make a single call.
I'm sure that you may have other questions, and I will be happy to spend as much time as necessary to provide answers for you. I have been handling maritime injury cases since 1983. Over ten years ago I was interviewed about the process of filing a claim against a cruise line.
This past week has been an exciting period of time for the lawyers at Cruise Law.
Jonathan Aronson and I returned from visiting clients in Jamaica. There are a number of injured crew members who the cruise lines have dumped back in their home country after they were injured working the long hours demanded of cruise line employees. Under an ancient maritime doctrine called "maintenance and cure," maritime employers are required to provide all necessary medical treatment and pay the living expenses for the ill or injured crewmembers. All too often, the cruise lines refuse to do so, and abandon their employees back in their home countries hoping that they will not obtain legal representation.
Billboards, Newspapers and Radio:
During our trip to Jamaica, we met with representatives from billboard, newspaper and radio companies to begin advertising our legal services in Jamaica. Unlike the U.S., Jamaica has a culture where litigation is not encouraged. Plus there are virtually no Jamaican lawyers who advertise. Injured crewmembers are often from countries like Jamaica where few people file lawsuits, there is no legal advertising, and it is difficult to obtain basic information about your legal rights. (The billboard above is near the port of Falmouth, by the Mayor of Trelawny Parish).
That's about to change.
Over the next few months, Jamaicans will see our firm's name and photos on billboards, in newspapers, and on the radio throughout the country. We know first hand that there are many Jamaican men and women who dedicated their careers to cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, only to be sent a one way ticket home and forgotten when they are seriously injured and can no longer work at sea. We are educating these crewmembers regarding their right to obtain compensation here in Miami when they are disabled from cruise ship employment.
Wrongful Death Suit Filed Over Death of 14 Year Old Girl in St. Thomas:
USA Today, the Miami New Times and the Virgin Islands Daily News have reported on the case of 14 year old Liz Marie Peréz Chaparro, who was killed during a stopover in St. Thomas while on a Carnival cruise. Cruise lines have a legal duty to warn their passengers of dangers in the ports of call which they select. For our article about this terrible crime, read: More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas.
A copy of the lawsuit is available on line here (via courthousenews.com).
More Publicity Over $1,250,000 Arbitration Award Against Royal Caribbean:
The media continues to cover the arbitration award which our firm obtained against Royal Caribbean for an injured crew member from Serbia. The South Florida Business Journal first reported on the award in an article "Royal Caribbean to pay Injured Worker $1.25M" and referred to our blog article about the case. Miami's Daily Business Review and Law.com then ran articles about the case.
Royal Caribbean's defense lawyer Curtis Mase was quoted in a follow up article by the South Florida Business Review "Royal Caribbean Case Highlights Arbitration" that the outcome of the case "flies in the face of 200 years of maritime law." Mr. Mase was referring to his argument that the cruise line should not be liable for the bad medical care provided to the injured crewmember after the cruise line abandoned her, an argument which the arbitration panel rejected.
Maritime employers have been legally responsible for the medical care and treatment of injured crewmembers actually dating back beyond 200 years to the Medieval Sea Codes. The arbitration panel not only found this cruise line's failure to provide appropriate medical treatment to be unreasonable, but it found Royal Caribbean to have acted negligently and to be 100% at fault in causing the crew member's accident.
This arbitration award was the first crew member outcome from the team of Walker & O'Neill and former Royal Caribbean defense lawyer Jonathan Aronson. Mr. Aronson "switched sides" two years ago. In response, Royal Caribbean and Mr. Mase unsuccessfully tried to disqualify Mr. Aronson and our firm from suing the cruise line, which we reported on in articles Royal Caribbean Forces Defense Lawyer to Switch Sides and Its Not Personal . . . Its Strictly Business. After losing its first two disqualification motions, the cruise line gave up. It now has one of its best defense lawyers successfully suing it.
A Near Miss - Independence of the Seas Hauls Ass Out of Gibraltar
An explosion from a large fuel tank near Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas resulted in what the cruise line describes as "minor" injuries to a dozen passengers. Seems like many guests on the top deck may have suffered flash burns when the tank exploded. A potential disaster was averted when the captain and his officers made a quick assessment of the situation and sailed the cruise ship away from the burning tank and out to safety in the harbor. You can see dramatic video and photos in our articles here and here.
Although the story ended happily, the issue arises whether cruise ships are attractive targets for terrorists particularly when they are positioned for Mediterranean and Middle East itineraries. Parking a cruise ship next to three large fuel tanks (especially during welding operations), needs to be re-thought.
A Guest Blog Goes Viral
The summer is here again and our firm's legal intern, law student Caitlin Burke has returned to help us with our cases. She quickly volunteered for another "guest blog" which is one of the most popular articles this year. Take a moment and read "Top 10 Shocking Clauses In Your Cruise Contract" and learn how cruise lines have stacked the deck against its cruise passengers. A hell of a way to treat your customers!
If you are a cruise critic or a cruise fan and think you are up to writing a guest blog here on Cruise Law News, contact us and we will be pleased to discuss this with you.
Safe cruising . . .
Top: Trelawny Billboard - Jim walker
Middle: Port of Miami, Majesty of the Seas, Jonathan Aronson, Lisa O'Neill, Jim Walker - Jim Walker
Over 5 million cruise ship passengers cruise out of the port of Miami each year. Many sail on cruise ships like the Carnival Destiny, pictured below as its leaves Miami Beach and heads south to the Caribbean.
The majority of our articles here at Cruise Law News address current issues which occur all too often on cruise ships - like outbreaks of norovirus, shipboard sexual assaults, or passenger and crew members overboards.
But this article addresses the most common incident on a cruise ship - when a passenger slips and falls on a deck on the ship. These incidents occur literally on every single cruise. Fractured hips, broken kneecaps, displaced ankle-fractures requiring surgery . . and so forth. The accidents occur by the buffets, by the pools, in the dining rooms, on the exterior decks - everywhere.
Here are few things to keep in mind if you are a passenger injured during a cruise:
If possible, don't let the cruise line dump you off in a port in Mexico or a Caribbean port. Its often better to tough it out a day or two and get back to a U.S. port or fly back to the U.S. as soon as reasonably possible. The surgical skills of the doctors in Mexico or the Caribbean islands are about 30 years behind U.S. standards. Hopefully, you have trip insurance and your air ambulance back to the U.S. is covered - otherwise you are looking at $30,000 out of your pocket to fly back to the States.
Obtain the names and contact information of witnesses who can verify the conditions surrounding your accident. The cruise line will never provide you with the accident report or statements of witnesses. Never. The cruise line's lawyers will blame you. It does not matter that you sailed with Royal Caribbean 25 times and are a Diamond Club member. Once you are a liability to the cruise lines, you have not seen a worse enemy. Protect yourself.
Read the terms of your passenger ticket. There is some important information in there. Like, you have to notify the cruise line of your intention to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and disability within six months of your accident. And if you need to file a claim, there is only a one (1) year limitations period to file the claim. This is a much shorter limitations period - most states have a statute of limitations of up to four (4) years. If you snooze, you lose!
Be ready to travel to Miami for your lawsuit. All of the cruise lines have "forum selection" clauses, whereby the cruise lines require to travel to a particular location to file your claim. The cruise line is betting that you will not read the terms of the ticket and will file suit in the wrong courthouse - hopefully more than one year after your accident!. The following cruise lines require that you file suit in Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Cape Canaveral):
Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Disney (Magical Cruise Company), MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, SeaDream, SilverSea, and Star Clipper.
If you file suit untimely and in the wrong jurisdiction, you will lose your rights!
Local Miami news station WSVN - 7 News ran a story that a record 52,000 cruise passengers sailed to or from from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) on nine cruise ships today.
The news station reported that "travelers from around the globe arrived at the port to set sail and help break a world record."
The story reminded me of the diversity of our law firm's clients and the wide variety of their problems.
In the past few days, we were contacted by a passenger seriously injured on the Oasis of the Seas' flow-rider, another passenger who underwent surgery after a glass door shattered, several seriously injured crew members sent back to their home countries without medical treatment, and even a newly-wed couple abandoned at a port when the cruise ship left early without informing them.
The most heartbreaking story comes from a mother whose daughter was sexually abused by a crew member - a problem we have addressed in many prior articles.
There is no doubt that the cruise industry is a juggernaut - big, rich and growing. There also is no doubt that there remain fundamental problems on cruise ships - inadequate medical treatment, an indifference to the passengers and crew after they have been injured, and sexual predators who prey on children.
Miami is called the Cruise Ship Capital of the World.
Most of the major cruise lines are based in South Florida. Azimara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea, and Star Clippers all call Miami or Fort Lauderdale their headquarters.
And if you are injured on one of these cruise ships anywhere in the world, the cruise lines require passengers to make a claim in South Florida - no matter where you live or what port you may have sailed from.
Twenty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of Carnival cruise line to enforce a "forum selection clause" in a passenger's ticket which requires passengers to file their claims in Miami, Florida. The case is called Shute v. Carnival. The Shute family was from Oregon and a family member was injured after sailing from Los Angeles to Mexico.
The Shute family tried to file suit in Oregon. Carnival moved to dismiss the case because there was a clause in the Shutes' ticket requiring that all lawsuits against Carnival must be filed in Miami, where Carnival in headquartered. The Shutes argued that having to travel several thousands of miles to Miami was an economic hardship. And why should Carnival - which registered its business in Panama to avoid U.S. taxes - have a home court advantage in Miami for every case? But the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Carnival and ruled that the Shute family had to file suit in Miami and be prepared to fly here to pursue their case.
Since the Shute decision, all cruise lines have included "forum selection" clauses in the passengers' cruise tickets. Most cruise lines require that the lawsuit be filed here in Miami. These clauses are legally binding and the cruise line will always enforce them.
The passengers' cruise tickets also require that the passenger (or their lawyer) notify the cruise line of the accident and intention of filing a lawsuit within six (6) months of the accident and the lawsuit must be filed within one (1) year.
If you are a passenger interested in further information, please consider reading:
The Daily Breeze newspaper reports that three ambulances and about 20 paramedics and rescue personnel were sent to a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the Port of Los Angeles yesterday to treat three passengers with serious injuries and medical complications. This is an unusual story, given the large number of emergency response personnel involved.
The injuries occurred aboard the Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, which arrived back in port yesterday.
One passenger was a pregnant woman suffering possible complications and two passengers who had slipped and fallen on the ship.
Two of the passengers were in the ship's infirmary when Los Angeles fire paramedics arrived. The other was in a state room on board. The paramedics transported the passengers to San Pedro Peninsula Hospital.
A spokesperson described the injuries as "serious." While the spokesperson would not say what caused the injuries, he said they were unrelated.
The New York Times describes Jim Walker as "a maritime lawyer in Miami who has attended more than half a dozen Congressional hearings about cruise ship crime and passenger safety." Jim has been involved in cruise ship law and maritime litigation since 1983. Based in Miami, Florida, Jim is a well known international maritime lawyer in the U.S. He represents passengers and crew members injured or assaulted on cruise ships around the world.
This year (2013) Jim has been the "go to" maritime lawyer when things go wrong on the high seas.
In 2012, Jim appeared on ABC's 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Jim was featured on PBS's documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic's sinking in 1912 to the current date. He also appeared on CNN's special "Cruise to Disaster" which explored the Concordia disaster.
Jim attended Duke University and graduated cum laude in 1980. He attended Tulane University School of Law, graduating in 1983 after taking Tulane’s internationally renowned admiralty curriculum.
Jim has experience regarding issues of cruise ship crime and sexual assault. Over the past ten years, he has represented over 1,000 clients including over 75 individuals who have been victimized on cruise ships, cruise excursions and ports of call. Six of Jim’s clients have testified before the United States Congress regarding cruise ship safety. Jim has handled the following cases in the past ten years:
The case of Laurie Dishman, sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. Her case resulted in changes to the cruise industry and the introduction of the Cruise Ship Safety and Security Act of 2010.
The “Missing Honeymooner Case” involving the disappearance of George Smith IV of Greenwich Connecticut from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship. Jim represented Mr. Smith’s widow, Jennifer Hagel.
Over 75 sexual assault cases against women and children on cruise ships, resulting in many million and multi-million dollars settlements.
The 2006 Star Princess fire disaster. The cruise ship fire resulted in one hundred cabins being destroyed and the death of one passenger, Richard Liffridge. Jim represented Mr. Liffridge’s family in litigation against Princess Cruises in California.
Numerous cases involving serious injury and death of passengers and crew members aboard Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
Jim is married to Lisa O’Neill who he met while they were undergraduates in college thirty years ago. Jim and Lisa are also law partners.
Lisa is also a Duke cum laude graduate, and attended the University of Florida School of Law in Gainesville, Florida. She served on Law Review as the Senior Articles Editor, won the prestigious Gertrude Brick Award, and graduated cum laude. Jim and Lisa work on all cases together.
In 1999, the firm created the web site CruiseLaw.com as an information resource for passengers and crew members worldwide. Here is what some publications are saying about Jim Walker:
"Perpetual Pain-In-The-Cruise-Lines-Neck Jim Walker" - Gadling.
Jim is the author of Cruise Law News - described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami's Daily Business Review.
The U.K. Metro newspaper refers to Jim as the "Devil of Cruise Reporting."
Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar (former member)
American Association for Justice, Admiralty Law Section
Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association
Maritime Law Association of the United States
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Southeast Admiralty Law Institute
Kent School, Kent Connecticut 1976
Duke University, Durham North Carolina 1980
Tulane School of Law, New Orleans Louisiana 1983
Florida Bar Association
Louisiana Bar Association (not active)
United States District Courts, Eastern District of Louisiana and Southern District of Florida
Media, Television, Radio, Magazines and Newspapers
Jim and his clients have been featured well over a hundred times on television, cable news and radio shows, as well as in documentaries, newspapers and magazine articles.
ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, DATELINE, 48 HOURS, 20/20, Larry King Live, A & E Investigative Reports, Hannity & Colmes, Greta Van Sustern, Nancy Grace, Inside Edition, Julie Banderas, Big Story Weekend, CourtTV, Catherine Crier, Montel Williams, Joe Scarborough, Rita Cosby, Mike & Juliet, Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Bloom, Dan Abrams, UK’s BBC-Radio 4, Heartland w/John Kasich, E! Entertainment, TruTV, Canada’s CATV-5, Good Morning America, TIME Magazine, National Law Journal, RADAR Magazine, Lawyer’s Weekly USA, Miami Herald, American Law Media, Tradewinds, Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel, Miami Business Review, LA Times, NY Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Florida Today, Daytona Beach Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, Greenwich Times, Greenwich Citizen, Greenwich Post, San Francisco Chronicle, U.K.'s Telegraph, St. Petersburg Times, Miami’s New Times, U.K. Mirror, London’s Guardian, Edmonton Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Bahamas Journal, Italy's "Chi l'ha Visto?" television show, Germany's Wunderwelt Wisen, CruiseCritic, South Florida Business Journal, Open Secrets organization, Queerty, Baltimore Sun, Bahamas Tribune, National Public Radio (NPR), USA Today, Gadling, FOX Business, Slate Magazine, ABA Journal, Australia's The Age, Attorney at Law Magazine, Huffington Post, U.K.'s Daily Mail, BBC, Freeport (Bahamas) News, Haaretz, Trip Advisor, Wikipedia, Palm Beach Post, India Times, E Turbo News, Global Travel News, Comunidade News (Brazil), Canada's CTV, OutFront with CNN's Erin Burnett, Slate, The Daily, London's Financial Times, Newsweek Magazine, Newsweek's The Daily Beast Blog, Fund Web, Reuters, Consumer Affairs, Australia's Herald Sun, Canada's NewsTalk 1010 Radio, Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Tampa Bay Business Journal, Perez Hilton, Business Insider, Greenwich Magazine, Herald Sun, CNN Money, the Australian newspaper, Christian Science Monitor, International Business Times, Maritime Executive, Businessweek, Bloomberg, Alaska Dispatch, Minnesota Post, Virgin Islands Daily News, Arizona Republic, Trip Advisor, Daily Kos, Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper, Antigua Observer, N.Y. Daily News, U.K.'s Daily Mail, UPI, Inquisitr, Christian Post, KTIC Radio, Cordova Times, Bloomberg News, Business Insider, Times of Malta, CNN Opinion, Wall Street Journal Blog. Newsday, CBC Radio (Canada), American Public Media Market Place, WGN Radio (Chicago) Chicago Tribune, WWL Radio (Miami), CNBC Squawk on the Street, WIOD Radio (Miami) and the Associated Press have all covered Jim’s cases and his client's causes.
Watch Jim on ABC's 20/20 program in January 2012 about the Costa Concordia disaster:
Watch Jim on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Seas" in March 2012 about cruise ship disappearances:
Maritime & admiralty lawyer & attorney James M. Walker of Walker & O'Neill Law Firm, offering services related to injuries, sexual assaults, fires, negligence, rapes & disappearances on cruise ships, pirate & terrorist attacks, missing passengers, shore excursions, wrongful death and the Jones Act, serving cruise passengers, crew members, cabin attendants, utility workers, waiters, bar tenders, ship doctors and cleaners on cruise ships worldwide.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Before you make this important decision, ask us to send you written information about our qualifications and experience.